Frog of the Week

Holy Cross Frog (Notaden bennettii)

Holy Cross Frog
photo by wikiuser Tnarg 12345

Common Name: Holy Cross Frog, Crucifix Frog, and Crucifix Toad
Scientific Name: Notaden bennettii
Family: Myobatrachidae – Australian Ground Frog family
Locations: Australia
Size: 2.7 inches (6.8 cm)

The Holy Cross Frog is a fossorial species of frog found in the  black soil plains and semi-arid grassland regions of western New South Wales and Queensland. During the dry times, the frog burrows down in the ground and surrounds itself in a cocoon to preserve water. They are capable of digging down almost 10 feet (3 meters)! Due to their fossorial lifestyle, the frogs feed primarily on ants and termites. When threatened by predators, the frogs produce a sticky, glue-like substance that predators don’t want to eat. It is advised to wash your hands after handling the Holy Cross Frog and basically any frog.

Once the heavy rains come, the frog will emerge from the ground, ready to breed. The male frogs will move to temporary ponds created by the rains and start to call out to females. The call sounds like a woo. Once the female arrives at the pond, the male glues himself to her back due to his smaller size. Next, the female lays her eggs and the male will fertilize them. Neither parents provide any parental care for their offspring.

Holy Cross Frog
photo by flickr user eyeweed

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Holy Cross Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. The only threats to the species are habitat loss due to farming, climate change, and the introduction of the invasive Cane Toad (Rhinella marina). Researchers have been trying to get the frogs to breed in captivity just in case but have been struggling. Surprisingly, the answer to this problem was a Youtube Clip of a thunderstorm. This clip helps simulate heavy rain storms that gets the frogs in the mood.

New Species

2 New Species of Waterdogs

The Waterdogs are fully aquatic species of salamanders that are paedomorphic. This means that they retain their larval characteristics (gills, etc) throughout their life. They are often mysterious, often living at the bottom of drainages, ponds, and lakes.

Researchers, Craig Guyer, Christopher M. Murray, Henry Bart, Brian I. Crother, Ryan E. Chabarria, Mark A. Bailey, and Khorizon Dunn, have described two new Waterdog species from the southeastern United States. You can read the article here. The two waterdogs were considered to be Gulf Coast Waterdog (Necturus beyeri) but they are physically different than it. Also the researchers suggest changing the name of the Gulf Coast Waterdog to the Western Waterdog.

Escambia Waterdog – photo by Craig Guyer

The first of the new species is the Escambia Waterdog (Necturus mounti). The larvae lacks white spots which differs from the Gulf Coast Waterdog. The adults lack spots on their mandible chin and on the sides of their belly. Their belly is a bright white color as well.

Apalachicola Waterdog – photo by Craig Guyer

The second of the species is the Apalachicola Waterdog (Necturus moleri). They as well lack white spots on their larvae that differs it from the Gulf Coast Waterdog. The adults have spots on their mandible chin and on the sides of their belly. Their belly is dull white in color. Both of the new species can be found around the Florida – Alabama border.

Frog of the Week

Paradoxical Frog (Pseudis paradoxa)

Paradoxical Frog
photo by Hans Hillewaert
least concern

Common Name: Paradoxical Frog, Paradox Frog, Shrinking Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudis paradoxa
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations:  Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela
Size: 1.7 – 3 inches (45 – 75 mm)

The Paradoxical Frog is named after a strange phenomenon during their metamorphosis. Their tadpole is the largest tadpole in the world, almost reaching 10 inches (25 cm) long! That is over three times larger than the length of an adult frog! What a paradox! Yet, not all tadpoles exhibit the paradox. Tadpoles that are born in temporary bodies of water with predators transform quickly and leave the water before they get to massive sizes. In permanent bodies of water, they transform slower, thus allowing more growth time.

The Paradoxical Frog is a member of the Tree Frog family – Hylidae but they are never seen in the trees. They live in and around permanent and temporary ponds. These are the same bodies of water that they breed in. The males will call for the ponds for the females. Once the female arrives, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will start laying her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The eggs are laid in the vegetation near the shore. Neither parent provides any parental care.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Paradoxical Frog as Least Concern for Extinction. They have a wide spread range and are common throughout it. Some populations are facing declines due to habit loss due to urban development and agriculture.

Frog of the Week

Magdalena Giant Glass Frog (Ikakogi tayrona)

Common Name: Magdalena Giant Glass Frog
Scientific Name: Ikakogi tayrona
Family: Centrolenidae – Glass Frog family
Locations: Colombia
Size: 1.2 inches (28 mm)

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is found in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountain range in the Magdalena department of Colombia, at altitudes up to a mile (1790 meters) high. They are an arboreal species of frog, living up in the trees. During the day, the frogs will hide on the back of leaves, camouflaging in with their translucent skin. Glass Frogs are really small, so even a frog reaching not even 1.5 inches long is considered gigantic.

The males of the species will mark out territory in leaves over hanging a stream. They will fight other males that enter their territory. The males even have humeral spines on their arms that they use to fight the other males. Eventually, the males will start calling for the females. Once the females arrive, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. Then, the female will lay her eggs on the leaves and the male will fertilize them.

The Magdalena Giant Glass Frog is the only known Glass Frog known that females will provide parental care for their offspring. In the other species, parental care is either provided by the male or not at all. The females will brood the eggs, protecting the eggs from predators and keeping them hydrated. Eventually, the eggs will hatch and the tadpoles will fall into the stream.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List categorizes the Magdalena Giant Glass Frog as Vulnerable to Extinction. They are found only in a small area where habitat destruction is an increasing problem.

Frog of the Week

Western Chorus Frog (Pseudacris triseriata)

photo by Todd Pierson

Common Name: Western Chorus Frog or Midland Chorus Frog
Scientific Name: Pseudacris triseriata
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog family
Locations: Canada and the United States
US Locations: Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, New York, Ohio, and Tennessee
Size: .3 – 1.5 inches (10 – 37 mm)

The Western Chorus Frog is a poorly named frog, due to it not living anywhere close to the west. It used to be part of a species complex with other Chorus Frogs, such as the Upland Chorus Frog (Pseudacris feriarum), but they were eventually all split into their own species. The Western Chorus Frog is often confused with other species of chorus frogs. Differences between the chorus frog species have to do with location and leg size so it can be really confusing. While chorus frogs are a member of the tree frog family – Hylidae, they are not found climbing high in the trees but usually around ground level. Due to their small size, they can be rather hard to find. Best time to locate them is during the breeding season when they are calling.

 Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife

The Western Chorus Frog starts to breed in February or March, depending on when the snow melts. They will continue to breed until the end of April or early May. The males of the species will start to call from temporary bodies of water like flooded ditches, flooded fields, and ponds. Females will come to the water and choose a mate. Once that happens, the male will grasp the female from behind in the amplexus position. Then the female will lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. The female can lay 300 eggs at a time. Neither parent provides any parental care for the offspring. The eggs hatch a week later and a tadpole emerges. The tadpole takes 3 months to complete their transformation into a juvenile frog.

Frog of the Week

Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog (Rana boylii)

photo by William Flaxington

Common Name: Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog
Scientific Name: Rana boylii
Family: Ranidae – True Frog family
Locations: United States
US Locations: California and Oregon
Size: 1.5 – 3.2 inches ( 3.8 – 8.1 cm)

The Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog is known for the yellow markings on the underside of their legs and extends to their belly. They live along the streams in the mountains of California and Oregon.

The breeding season starts at the end of March and continues to the end of May. Mating takes place in streams and rivers instead of the usual ponds and lakes that other frogs use. The males will call underwater to try to attract females. They do occasionally call above the water. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp her from behind in the amplexus position. The female will lay between 300 – 2000 eggs, averaging around 900, and the male will then fertilize them.

Neither parent provides any parental care. The eggs hatch between 5 – 37 days days and the tadpoles transform between 3 and 4 months.Breeding end of March to start of May, streams rivers, males call underwater, 300 – 2,000, averaging 900. transform 3-4 months, hatch 5 – 37 days, typical breeding

The Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog is a candidate for the United States’ Endangered Species List and is already listed on the state of California’s Endangered Species List. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List also lists them as Near Threatened. The frogs have disappeared from almost 45% of its range. Numerous different things have affected the frog’s populations. The large, introduced American Bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) feast upon any smaller frog than it, including the Foothill Yellow-Legged Frog. Introduced trout Pesticide use has decreased population numbers. Dams have altered the habitat that they call home.

Frog of the Week

Black Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis moreletii)

photo by  Sean Michael Rovito

Common Name: Black Eyed Tree Frog, Morelet’s Treefrog, or Black Eyed Leaf Frog
Scientific Name: Agalychnis moreletii
Family: Hylidae – Tree Frog Family
Locations: Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico
Size: females around 2.5 inches (64.2 mm), males around 2.3 inches (58.6 mm)

The Blacked Eyed Tree Frog is the less popular cousin of the Red Eyed Tree Frog. Like the Red Eyed Tree Frog, they are nocturnal, spending the day hiding on leaves off trees. The frogs can be found in the pet trade but most of them are wild caught. Buying wild caught frogs is wrong in my opinion. The species epithet moreletii is in honor of french naturalist and illustrator Pierre Marie Arthur Morelet. Morelet didn’t study frogs, he was actually really interested in mollusks.

During the rainy season, the males of the species will start to call on elevated areas around pools, lakes, and streams. The female frog will select a mate and the two will embrace in amplexus. The female will lay her eggs on rocks and leaves over hanging water and the male will fertilize them. The female lays between 50 to 70 eggs. Once the tadpoles hatch in 5 to 10 days, they fall right into the water to finish their metamorphosis. This stage of the metamorphosis takes around 55 days.

While the International Union of the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List only lists the Black Eyed Tree Frog as Least Conservation of becoming extinct, the species is in trouble. It was formerly listed as Critically Endangered in 2004 due to Chytrid Fungus wiping out populations in Mexico. It was predicted the fungus would eliminate populations in other countries. So far, the disease hasn’t done that. The habitat of the frogs are fragmented and are endangered due to habitat destruction for farms and cities.

Uncategorized

Smooth Newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)

photo by John Beniston

Common Name: Smooth Newt
Scientific Name: Lissotriton vulgaris
Family: Salamandridae
Locations: Albania, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, and United Kingdom
Introduced Locations Australia
Size: 3.9 inches (10 cm)

The Smooth Newt is one of the most common amphibians found throughout temperate, forest areas in Europe. They are mostly terrestrial, only staying in water for extended periods of time during breeding season. They are also nocturnal, spending their days under logs and rocks. The newts do come out during rains during the day.

The Smooth Newt reproduces after the newt wake up from hibernation. The males and females move to ponds to breed. The males will grow out a wavy crest on their back to impress the females. The male will do a courtship dance to attract females. The males will deposit a sperm packet in the water and will lead a female over it during the courtship. The female will pick it up with her cloaca and bring it inside her to fertilize her eggs. A few days layer, the female will lay her eggs, as many as 300. Eggs hatch a few weeks later and larvae will appear. The larvae take a few months to complete their metamorphism, but some individuals may take over a year. These individuals will then have to survive in the water over winter.

In Australia, the Smooth Newt has established populations in the wild. It is believed the newts were released into the wild from a pet owner who didn’t want them anymore. Never do that please. Currently, it is not known if the newt is causing any serious environmental problems so the Australian Government isn’t actively trying to prevent their spread or eliminate them.

Uncategorized

Dixie Valley Toad (Anaxyrus williamsi)

photo by Kris Urquhart/USFWS

Common Name: Dixie Valley Toad
Scientific Name: Anaxyrus williamsi
Family: Bufonidae – True Toad family
Locations: United States – Nevada
Size: 2 inches (50.8 mm)

The Dixie Valley Toad is a relatively new species, only being described in 2017. Before, it was considered an isolated population of the Western Toad (Anaxyrus boreas). Physical and genetic tests revealed that it was in fact, its own species. Dixie Valley Toad is physically different than the Western Toad. They have gold specks on its body and is smaller than the Western Toad.

Most life history of the Dixie Valley Toad is presumed to be similar to the Western Toad. They are a nocturnal species, living under rocks or burrowed in the dirt during the day. Reproduction is external. The males will call to attract females. Once the female selects a male, the male will grasp the female from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will fertilize them. No parental care has been shown.

While only just described, the toad is already a candidate for the Endangered Species List. The exact number of toads are unknown but their range is small. Their habitat is already threatened by a geothermal energy plant that has plans to go up right next to it.

Frog of the Week

Marsh Frog (Pelophylax ridibundus)

photo by Charles J Sharp

Common Name: Marsh Frog
Scientific Name: Pelophylax ridibundus
Family: Ranidae – True Frog Family
Locations: Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iran, Islamic Republic of, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Ukraine.
Introduced Locations: Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom
Female Size: 6.7 inches (17 cm)
Male Size: 4.7 inches (12 cm)

The Marsh Frog is the largest frog native to Europe. Its found around the edges of rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams. They rarely ever move away from these shores. The frogs will start to breed at the beginning of spring. Like most frogs, the male Marsh Frogs will call to the female frogs from the shallows of the water. Once the female selects a mate, the male frog will grasp her from behind. The female will then lay her eggs and the male will then fertilize them. The female can lay between 670-13,000 eggs. Neither parent will provide any care for their offspring.

Marsh Frogs were introduced to Kent, England in the 1930s. Other populations of the frog have popped up in western London and the southwestern part of the country. Due to their size, they prey on native wildlife, potentially having problematic effects on the native populations. The frogs could also be spreading chytrid fungus, a deadly pathogen, around the country.